Interviewing for Seasonal Positions: The Answers and Keywords That Will Help You Land a Short-Term Post
There are thousands of books, articles, and other resources out there that are geared to help guide job seekers through the interview process. If you're like most people who are in the market for a new position, you've probably already spent some time doing research to fine-tune your interview skills.
If so, you're on the right track! Pre-interview preparation always pays off. However, if you're in the market for a seasonal or temporary position, a lot of the standard interview advice that is traditionally given to job seekers may not be directly applicable to your situation.
A Different Kind of Work
On a fundamental level, a job is a job, whether it's temporary or permanent. Employers looking to hire seasonal workers look for the same qualities they seek when hiring long-term employees -- experience, professionalism, a good work ethic, and a positive attitude.
Still, at the same time, there are a few key differences that separate seasonal and permanent positions. Most importantly, there is little or no expectation that seasonal job seekers will be asked to make -- or will want to make -- a long-term commitment to the company. This crucial distinction should play a central role in the approach you use to try to land the position. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind as you develop a strategy for your next seasonal job interview.
Why are you in the market for a temporary position?
This question will inevitably arise during your seasonal job interview, yet many job seekers are still thrown off-guard by it. Make sure you develop a convincing answer that stresses your need for flexibility, and avoid any responses that may tend to make you sound less than reliable.
Choose responses that underscore your professionalism.
Some job seekers think that a professional demeanor may signal that they're overqualified for seasonal work. In fact, employers are looking for the candidates most likely to get up to speed quickly with little or no difficulty. Act as professionally as you would if applying for a permanent, career-track position, and don't be shy about highlighting your experience.
Clearly outline your level of schedule flexibility.
In the hospitality industry, high season often means double shifts, overtime, and few -- if any -- days off. If your schedule permits it, emphasize your ability to shape your working hours to the employer's needs. On the other hand, if you have scheduling constraints, make sure they are clear from the get-go.
Use examples that demonstrate your ability to learn quickly.
Job seekers who can easily adjust to new work environments and swiftly get up to speed in an unfamiliar setting are worth their weight in gold to employers with seasonal openings. In your interview answers, choose past experiences and scenarios that illustrate your adaptability.
On questions of long-term availability, let the interviewer lead the way.
Seasonal work generally comes with no strings attached -- and no promises of lasting job security. However, there is often a possibility that particularly promising temps may be offered permanent positions after high season winds down. If you're interested in a long-term job, try to take your cue from the hiring manager when you answer questions about your future availability. If he or she seems open to the possibility of a temp-to-permanent situation, subtly skew your answers in that direction. On the other hand, if it doesn't seem like a long-term position is on the table right now, just set the issue aside. If you land the position, your excellent on-the-job performance may just help you create your own long-term opportunity at the company in the future.